Controversial Mimi Imfurst made an early exit from RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race. She also went early in Season 3. This time, Mimi was hoping to show everyone more of what she has to offer. And then the contestants were told they were to compete in teams of two. She talked to Channel Guide about the experience and her band XELLE.
Channel Guide Magazine: is your super busy schedule is that kind of is that a result of being on Drag Race or that pretty typical for you?
Mimi Imfurst: It’s pretty typical for me. I half-jokingly one day referred to myself is the hardest working bitch in show business and it just kind of stuck and people started to believe it and I just became busy because of it
Typically even without All Stars I’m on the road and away from my house two days out of the week every week with a regular gig on top of with All Stars there’s additional excitement. I like to keep myself busy. It’s kind of a fun challenge for myself see how long I can go without sleeping
CGM: When I was looking at your website … you’re DJing, you’re doing drag, you’re in a band. You don’t seem to be comfortable sitting still.
Mimi: No I’m a modern Renaissance woman. I sometimes jokingly sing to Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman” “I’m Every Gay Job.” I like to do it all. I do do the DJ stuff; I am in my band XELLE on top of the traditional drag gig, RuPaul’s Drag Race appearances. I’m starting to venture into doing traditional standup comedy so I try to keep my press-on fingernails in many pockets. That’s very important.
CGM: So was the All Stars experience different or was it similar to your first go around on Drag Race?
Mimi: I mean in true Drag Race fashion nothing can prepare you for anything. It’s very funny because even going through the first time around, I had the benefit of seeing two seasons prior to mine and I knew a lot of the girls and I talked to them going into it. Even then nothing can prepare you for the actual experience. Then [you] come on the all-stars and it’s exactly the same again where you don’t know what you’re preparing for. Nothing can, you know. You go in & it’s just completely insane and they turn the entire concept on its head and we’re paired in teams and it’s just a crazy experience.
CGM: Did you have any other thoughts on how Drag Race ended up for you?
Mimi: You know, somebody said to me yesterday, it’s like a really pretty pair of shoes. Sometimes you go into the shoe store and there’s a gorgeous pair of shoes and they have one size left and it’s a little too small. Sometimes you just shouldn’t buy the shoe. And it’s fine. That’s how I kind of look at it. I sometimes jokingly say that I’m really bad at RuPaul’s Drag Race. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad drag queen in any way shape or form. It’s kind of funny because in many ways it’s kind of lowered people’s expectations of me. So whenever I go into gigs, they go “oh, you’re really good.” And I’m like well yeah, you know?
In many ways RuPaul’s Drag Race is just one aspect of the drag world and there’s so much more to it for me. I feel so honored, blessed and extremely lucky to be afforded to be a part of it. But at the same time, as the 2-time 11th place winner you start to go “Well maybe this isn’t for me.” And that’s fine. I’m enjoying it, loving it and I’m having such a great time.
CGM: Do you think the actual structure of Drag Race kinda just doesn’t work for you?
Mimi: In some ways yes & no and I think there are other drag queens that are similar. You know, just in some ways Project Runway wouldn’t be right for every person that can sew. There have been some contestants on Project Runway that didn’t do well because they were costume designers and not fashion designers. Does that mean they don’t know how to pick up a needle and a thread and put something sickening together. Absolutely not. It didn’t work for me twice in some ways, but it did work for me in others. It’s not the prizes you win, but the lessons that you learn.
CGM: Was there anything on All Stars that you wish had been shown but wasn’t?
Mimi: Not really. I wish people could have seen more of me. I think a lot of people write me off, as a bad drag queen or as a this or a that. And it couldn’t be further from the truth. In this country we’re predominately a Christian country, and people get trained from a very young age when they go to church to believe whatever that person behind the pulpit says. And I think TV works the same way. People like an opinion to be given to them a lot of the time. I wish more people would question and think a little bit more for themselves. It’s kinda hard when you’re in that format and people are fast to judge you. I’m always like: You go do it. If you think you can do it better, please feel free. It’s ludicrous to me that there are some people out there that think that because they watch RuPaul’s Drag Race that they’re an expert in drag. Watching Law & Order doesn’t make me a great lawyer.
People want to write me off; it’s fine. It kind of inspired my stand-up comedy show that I’m debuting in New York & going on tour with called “I Would Hate Me Too.” It’s along the play of like well yeah, if I only knew that, I would hate me too. It gives me the pleasure to be able to do this show and kind of go there with some politically incorrect humor and if they groan I can say “I know, I would hate me too.” I’m America’s favorite most hated drag queen. It’s something, at least. I may not have won $100,000 but I got that. (Note: The tour is probably going to start in January. Follow Mimi Imfurst on Twitter or Facebook for the latest information.)
CGM: What did your friends in the other parts of your life think about how you were portrayed on Drag Race.
Mimi: I think they were happy with how I was portrayed on All Stars. It was more accurate of how I really am in some ways than in season 3. Of course, it’s never going to be completely accurate. It’s never going to show you a whole picture. It’s impossible. You’d end up watching one of those 24-hour Warhol films. You’re literally seeing 45 minutes of 3 days with 12 cameras of filming. You’re probably watching 80 hours per episode worth of footage melted down into 45 minutes. They’re just showing a sliver and telling the story in just one way so it certainly is real but it’s only one part of it. Sometimes that can be good, sometimes that can be bad.
In season 3 they showed one very small part of what happened and it did not make me look good. I would hate me too! My friends were like “I don’t understand who this person is.” And I didn’t either. In some ways it was fine because it came across as so far removed from who I really am that it was like watching a character more than a person.
I will say on All Stars I think they really kinda got who I am and I feel so great about it. I feel so lucky to be given that second chance. Just to get cast in RuPaul’s Drag Race is crazy in and of itself considering all these drag queens in the world that would love to be a part of it. To be 12 of 50-something to be asked back, it’s an amazing thing.
CGM: One of the favorite episodes of Drag Race is always Snatch Game, and you never made it to Snatch Game. Who would you have been?
Mimi: Liza Minnelli could be a possibility. I impersonate Lisa Lampanelli; I’ve worked with her on Celebrity Apprentice. I do her from time to time, but I was thinking it could be fun to do Celine Dion or Marlee Matlin because it’s essentially the same costume and voice. Or the other person would be, I think I would have to do Honey Boo Boo Child. That’s a superstar right there.
CGM: Not Ann Romney?
Mimi: I did Ann Romney. I did the YouTube video, Leave Mitt Romney Alone. I’m less interested in doing people you would expect. I have a show that I tour with called Barely Living Legends and I do 10 character impersonations on stage. But instead of doing Barbara and Judy and Liza, I do different characters pulled from political and news headlines. So I’ll do JonBenet Ramsey and Terri Schiavo and Anne Frank and Ann Romney. All these other characters who have been sensationalized in the news in a very different way. It’s interesting to me how our culture makes sometimes the most unusual people into celebrities.
CGM: You’re performing a lot – you’ve got a show tonight (Friday, October 26) with Manila and Latrice you’ve got a show tomorrow (Saturday, October 27) with Willam and Pandora. When you do shows like this when you’re doing them every night are you doing similar sets and just working them around different girls or are the shows completely different depending on who’s performing?
Mimi: Every crowd is different. I think one of the keys to my success over the years is that I tailor what I’m doing to the venue and to the audience. What you can do in one place is definitely not necessarily going to work in another. I’m not interested in self-serving what I have to do and more about ensuring the audience is entertained.
CGM: So you’re really playing off what’s going on and who’s there.
Mimi: Of course! You have to constantly be creating, and now with YouTube and everybody has a phone. People will take a picture or a video of whatever you’re doing and then they’ll post it on YouTube. And then you start to hear “Oh, there’s that again. There’s that look again. There’s that costume. There’s that number.” So you’re constantly switching it up.
CGM: What about XELLE, how long have you been with XELLE & how did you come together?
Mimi: We’ve been together now for almost exactly 2 years this month. We met during a karaoke party. I was hosting karaoke at this bar in New York and they both come in on different days. And one day they came in together and I was a fan of both Rony and JC’s voices. I pulled them up on stage and said: “oh I put in a song we’re singing together and you’re going to sing this with me.” And of course, you would never say no to a drag queen with a microphone.
So they did it. I put on Spice Girls Wannabe and it was kind of kismet. We kind of put in the harmonies and they can really, really sing. So then one of our mutual friends, Zack Adam, who’s an amazing songwriter and producer heard it and he and I were talking and said we need to start a girl group where one of the girls isn’t a girl. It’s kind of genius. It’s never been done before.
CGM: That’s kind of surprising.
Mimi: Yeah, but it’s a reflection of the times. We’re not a gay community anymore. We’re not a straight community. We’re kind of a melting pot in some ways. So what XELLE is about is first and foremost, is fun. And secondly, we want to celebrate our differences. Not say oh, we’re just kind of all the same and we’re in one bucket. No, we’re different, but we can all come together and move forward and work together even though we are so different.
That’s kind of what it’s about and we’ve been working on this album for two years. The album just came out on Tuesday with the music video for the first single on the album, Queen. The response has been great. It’s been awesome. We’re just constantly working and trying to come up with new, innovative ways to do things. Our first music video was filmed on a moving subway with no permit. We built a replica of a subway train in the studio to rehearse it. We had extras at every train stop and every time the train would stop, more people would come on. It was like a flash mob meets 1992 outlaw party in NYC thrown on a subway. It was filmed in a single take. We had to do it 8 times so that we could get a take that was just right.
We did that and the video for Queen is out. And we’ve been working for almost a year now on our next music video Hologram. It’s going to be the longest music video at about an hour long. What it consists of is about 30 to 40 independent smaller videos all strung together. It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure music video. Martha Wash is in it. Janeane Garofalo, Joshua McKinley from Project Runway All Stars is in it. Mike Ruiz from A-List and of course, RuPaul’s Drag Race is in it. It’s a really fun, fun video.
We filmed it over the course of a couple of months and now we’re in post-production. A music video can take a week easily to edit it. Now try to imagine editing 30 videos. It’s going to take awhile. Oh yeah.
RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race airs Monday nights, 8pm/9pm ET on LOGO!